Two of three teens charged in the Kettering shooting death of a Fairmont High School junior both pleaded guilty Tuesday to tampering with evidence and agreed to testify against the accused gunman.
As part of a plea deal which will be sealed, the 17- and 15-year-old juvenile defendants admitted to taking part in the Sept. 4 shooting of Ronnie Bowers, a 16-year-old “innocent bystander” who died two days later in the city’s first gun-related homicide since 2007.
The 17-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of felony tampering with evidence, and misdemeanor assault and menacing.
The 15-year-old pleaded guilty to one count each of felony tampering with evidence, and misdemeanor assault and menacing.
Both agreed to no longer attend Kettering schools and sentencing is not scheduled until after a hearing for the third defendant, 16-year-old Kylen Jamal Gregory. Prosecutors want to try Gregory as adult on two murder counts for the shooting near AlterFest.
The plea agreement will remain sealed “until further court orders in the interest of justice,” said Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge Anthony Capizzi.
Capizzi said the two pleading guilty Tuesday will remain in custody pending a probation report. A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 27. A two-day hearing to determine how Gregory will be tried is set to start Jan. 24.
Gregory was singled out by the other two defendants as the one who “fired the gun, striking” Bowers, according to an affidavit by Kettering police for a search warrant filed in juvenile court.
Assistant Prosecutor Lynda Dodd noted during court Tuesday that the 15-year-old’s plea deal “is similar” to the 17-year-old’s, with “no agreement on sentencing” and clauses “for testimony and cooperation.”
The two teens pleading guilty “did not either know of a gun or expect there to be any gunfire involvement,” county Prosecutor Mat Heck has said.
Still, Capizzi said their pleas could leave them in custody until they turn 21.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys declined to comment on the case Tuesday. Dodd cited the “ongoing investigation.”
Dodd asked Capizzi if the plea agreement could be shared with Gregory’s attorney, Ben Swift. The judge said he didn’t “want it to be distributed in any way” and would give Swift a copy of it himself.
Gregory used a stolen Smith & Wesson to shoot Bowers in the back of the head in the 800 block of Willowdale Avenue near Ackerman Boulevard about 9 p.m. Sept. 4 after groups both of them were with left AlterFest, Heck said the day he announced he would seek adult charges against Gregory.
Authorities said an ongoing dispute involving a mutual acquaintance of both Gregory and Bowers flared up at AlterFest. The groups Gregory and Bowers were with left the annual Labor Day weekend event and encountered each other again later, authorities have said.
All three juveniles were initially charged with felonious assault. Amended charges and a motion to transfer Gregory’s case was filed last month after “an extensive investigation and a very thorough,” Heck said at the time.
Gregory also faces one count of discharging a firearm on or near prohibited premises and one count of grand theft of a firearm, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The case against Gregory “absolutely screams out” to be tried in adult court, Heck has said.
At Gregory’s hearing, if the prosecution proves there is probable cause to try him as adult, Capizzi has said state guidelines may make the transfer to adult court — a move Bowers’ family has endorsed — mandatory.